The Yiddish Farm Education Center is a Shomer-Shabbos organic farm in Goshen, NY that hosts Yiddish educational programs with the goal of teaching Yiddish and fostering unity and respect between Hasidic and non-Hasidic Jews. We encourage guests and program participants alike to explore the cultural riches that Yiddish-speaking Jewry has contributed and continues to contribute to Jewish life.
History of the organization
Yiddish Farm was founded officially on December 12, 2010 at a conference in the Stanton Street Synagogue. Thanks to some early grants from the Naomi Prawer Kadar Foundation, the Benyumen Shekhter Foundation For The Advancement Of Standard Yiddish, The Chaim Schwartz Foundation and the Aaron and Sonia Fishman Foundation for Yiddish Culture, we were able to pilot a 3-week advanced Yiddish immersion program on the Kayam Farm, as well as an outdoor Jewish cultural festival in the summer of 2011.
The groundbreaking nature of Yiddish Farm was quickly recognized and the organization was chosen to participate in the PresenTense Community Entrepeneur Partnership as well as the ROI Global Community of Jewish Innovators in 2011. These networks provided Yiddish Farm with the kind of professional development that is crucial during the start-up phase of development.
During the summer of 2012, we formally signed the lease for the Jochnowitz family farm, a 200-acre property in Goshen, NY. We restored the old well, built a greenhouse and a fence and began planting organic vegetables on several acres of land. We expanded our summer program to three months and piloted new programs for beginners and advanced students alike. as well as programs for various institutions such as camps and schools. Hundreds of people participated in our 2012 summer programs.
Following the summer of 2012, we started an organic garlic business and began planning an organic matzah business. We are looking forward to continuing to build our educational programs, our food production capabilities, and our community.
Naftali Schaechter Ejdelman, Educational Director
A grandson of the late Yiddish professor Dr. Mordkhe Schaechter, Naftali has been teaching Yiddish in a variety of formal and informal contexts since he was in high school. He received a Masters Degree in Judaic Studies from Brandeis University and is a licensed teacher in New York and Massachusetts. Naftali helped found Yiddish Farm in 2010 and was selected to participate in the ROI Global Community of Jewish Innovators in 2011 and the PresenTense Community Entrepeneur Partnership in 2012. Before founding Yiddish Farm, Naftali worked as a schoolteacher teacher at Beit Rabban and as an environmental educator at the Teva Learning Center and at the Kayam Farm.
Yisroel Bass, Farm Manager
Before helping to found Yiddish Farm, Yisroel served as an executive board member and the secretary of Yugntruf - Youth for Yiddish and as the president of the Jewish student union at Whittier College. In order to become more active in Yiddish-speaking circles, Yisroel moved to New York and transferred to City College. During the summer of 2010 Yisroel participated in the Adamah Jewish Environmental Fellowship in order to pick up the skills necessary to launch Yiddish Farm. Yisroel graduated Summa Cum Laude from City College in December 2011, having majored in Philosophy and Jewish Studies.
1. Speak Yiddish: We value Yiddish as a living language and strive to broaden its role in daily life. Living on an organic farm provides new contexts in which to use the language and bring it into modernity.
2. Build Community: Our programs bring together people of various ages and backgrounds, including native Yiddish-speakers and Yiddish students. Our ultimate goal is a pluralistic Yiddish-speaking community living off of the land and serving as a resource for the greater Jewish community.
3. Live Sustainably: By growing our own food organically and educating people about where their food comes from, we hope to help people live more in harmony with the environment.